UPDATE 3/29/12 @1:30pm: You can see the latest, and sign our petition here.
UPDATE 3/28/12 @8am: The school board did not allow the wearing of the kilt to the prom, but reports are the student will wear a tartan tie instead. The student is satisfied with the results, even though the rest of us are not. We would encourage every school board to be more open to culture and international tradition that predates the invention of pants. I personally look forward to celebrating Scotland in the St. Louis and Chicago areas during the upcoming Tartan Day and Scotland Week celebrations, and hope you take the time, wherever you are, to do the same. You can see more regarding the story via the St. Louis Post Dispatch or the Daily Mail in the UK.
Thank you to the 12,000+ people from the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and across Europe who took interest in this issue by reading this blog, and to the many, many people who took action in support of Scotland.
UPDATE 3/27/12 @11pm: The situation has been rectified to the satisfaction of the student and an apology has been given to him. No more e-mails or phone calls are neccesary.
Here’s a first hand account of the School Board meeting from Ed Lorden:
“I was not able to get my kilt after work, but did address the Board only to have the Superintendent read the decision of the board. They were upholding a student handbook policy that I had not read. They said that the kilt and accouterments were not traditional attire for that event. I tried to use the “it’s a learning opportunity for the students to be exposed to another culture angle. I will say this much for the young man: he accepted the decision of the board with more grace and bearing than I would have suspected for high school student. His remarks began with an apology to the board and the faculty of the High School for the uncivil emails they had received. He argued well from a point of view that it was traditional, in a broader sense than just the school’s events. I was encouraged by his speech that perhaps there are some that come out of the public school system with the ability to think for themselves and be articulate about what they think. While I believe the decision made by the board is wrong on many levels, I applaud Will’s acquiescence to the decision of duly elected authority, having run through the machinations of appeal given him. He well represented his Scottish heritage.”
America is the melting pot of the world’s cultures. And the St. Louis area is no exception. Cultures from around the world are celebrated year round, and I am honored, as a Scottish immigrant, to help promote the celebration of the Scotland-America connection year round in the St. Louis area.
Every January we celebrate Robert Burns at numerous locations region-wide. In April, Tartan Day and Scotland Week are honored at the city and state levels. In September, the St. Louis Scottish Games take over Forest Park and many TV and radio stations. In November, St. Andrew’s Day is celebrated. And numerous other cultural events take place year round, business connections continue to be built, and I’ve even done a business presentation wearing the kilt, Scotland’s national outfit.
Unfortunately, this encouragement of culture and the celebration of Scotland does not extend to prom at Granite City High School.
Just a few days ago, student William Carruba was denied permission to wear his kilt to his upcoming prom. He appealed. He was then denied again. Now he is appealing this decision to the Granite City School Board, and his hearing is tomorrow, March 27.
Oh, and did I mention, when the school told Mr. Carruba he could not wear his kilt, they said, they “want to teach the men to dress like men.” I don’t take offense easily, but this one insults me, the Scottish community here in St. Louis and an entire nation back across the Pond.
I have already sent notes to the high school principal and every member of the school board. I would encourage you to do the same. And I will be keeping a close eye on this, hopeful that the school board will be a wee bit more open minded than those who discriminated against Scotland and Mr. Carruba in the first place.
[e-mail addresses of the principal and the school board have been removed by request]
Thanks for your support for Scotland and the expression of Scottish culture in the St. Louis area.